03.07.2010 20 °C
Wenchuan before the Earthquake
Wenchuan (or Wenzhuan) is the nearest city to Yingxiu. During our project we brought rural teachers from the surrounding areas into the city for training. We had become friends with our colleagues there and they had been in Canada for upgrading their teaching skills.
When the earthquake hit, it was these people we worried most about. The city was cut off for 6 days with no water or electricity; the roads and bridges were all destroyed; there was no communication with the outside world. Our colleagues told us of their frightening experiences during this time. Many buildings didn’t collapse, but had massive cracks, so people were afraid to stay indoors and slept outside. There was no visibility as the air was filled with dust from the rubble that had come down from the surrounding mountains. As the city is a regional centre for commerce and transportation the government prioritized it for reconstruction and, in the space of two years, the town has been rebuilt largely with money and the help of Guangdong Province in the south of China. During reconstruction people lived in temporary accommodation with no heating or running water and shared bathroom facilities.
Many ethnic Chinese live in Wenchuan especially the Qiang people
and the new town reflects their cultural architecture.
The New Wenchuan City Hall
An open area has been provided for people to meet and relax in the new city, and every evening the place is full of dancers. There we met an enthusiastic young man, a project manager from Guangdong Province, working as part of the reconstruction team for the past two years. He was anxious to know what we thought of the new city and in particular the area where the people could enjoy themselves. We explained that we knew Wenchuan well and were very impressed with the city’s new look. We were amazed that so much had been accomplished in such a short time.
Dancing in Wenchuan
Throughout the city, there are posters which show the bright new future.
I have spent a great deal of time in China over the past 30 years but this visit has been the most poignant and memorable. And, while I am saddened that so many people were killed in the earthquake, I am heartened by the tremendous resolve of these wonderful people to rebuild their city and their lives.